Farmyard fashionistas ‘cracking’ success in Junk Kouture competition

Farmyards around the country have hatched a range of “egg-traordinary” fashionista finds for the Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture competition.

Among the finalists in the competition – which encourages second level students to create dress designs from everyday junk – is ‘She’s no egg; but she’s some yolk’ by Our Lady’s Bower Athlone transition year students, Ellen Kearney and Katie Shortall.

Under the guidance of art teacher, Oonagh Kelly, the students devised their entry using 3,500 egg cartons.

Every egg carton was divided, punched, and reconnected using cotton strand to give the dress “flow and flexibility”.

A total of 1,500 cartons were reworked into roses to edge the neckline and the back of the creation. A further 200 cartons were moulded around chicken wire to form the head piece.

Katie, a keen horse enthusiast, and Ellen, who is also from a farming background, chose to specifically use egg cartons from free range and sustainable egg producers.

The duo wanted their entry to highlight the significance of animal health and welfare in the poultry industry.

We visited free range egg farms in the north-west and experienced first-hand the advantage of pullets and hens in their natural environment; as opposed to hatcheries where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions.

The ensemble came about by accident, they said.

“The original design fell to the floor and I picked it up at an awkward angle. Katie decided the design was hatched – upside down and gathered at the ends,” said Ellen.

“The hem is in the centre and the waist trails the floor. The top is made from smaller egg cartons cut into diamond shapes and glued to an old linen sheet. Every rose is constructed from four egg cartons that were trimmed, glued and sprayed,” she said.

Works by Dutch artist Enno de Kroon inspired Katie and Ellen to colour their dress. “Enno invented ‘eggcubism’ – the art of painting egg trays,” said Ellen.

“The egg cartons are very fragile; we are in a constant state of repair,” the girls said.

Farm frocks

Reaching the final with another interesting farmyard related creation were striking pieces of wearable art by Jodie-Rose Collins, Kalindi Owens and Kate Corrigan from Scoil Chriost Ri, Portlaoise.

“When we were brainstorming for ideas, we got inspiration from the Givenchy wedding gown line. We fell in love with the elegance and glamour of this line and we decided to create something just as nice, minus the $500,000 price tag,” they said.

“We created this dress design to prove you don’t need to spend a million dollars to look a million dollars. We recycled the twine from local farms and garden centres. We experimented with the twine in many ways such as fraying, knotting, shaping and weaving.

“We reused old wool from our art room to knit the base of the jacket by hand and proceeded to sew the knotted, frayed, tassels of twine to give the effect of a fur jacket.

“We collected approximately 200 used egg shells from our own homes, classmates and from our school home economics rooms.

“Our local cafe kindly provided us with two bags of stale coffee beans which we spray painted gold and copper to fit the glamorous effect we were trying to portray,” the Laois students said.

As a community we are very privileged to have access to local farms. We were able to come in contact with a number of farms around Laois that were were able to provide us with the supplies we needed to make our dress.

“We began this project in September 2017 and we completed it just in time for our photo shoot in January 2018. We were able to come together at least once every week to work on our design and we took advantage of our Christmas break, spending every day working on completing the dress,” they said.

“None of us are from farming backgrounds; but, we were very privileged to have access to local farms within our community,” said the students.

“We sourced egg shells from students who owned a farm close to our area, as our school is very agriculturally involved.

“Once we collected a sufficient amount of eggs; we cleaned them thoroughly to make sure they were perfect to use for our dress. We crushed them into various sizes so they would suit different designs.

As the majority of the egg shells we received were free range; they were of good quality and very malleable to work with.

The Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture competition grand final – which will take place at the 3 Arena on Thursday, April 19 – is now sold out. Dance troupe XOD will open the show; while Jake Carter and Fallen Lights from Mullingar will also perform.

Now in its eighth consecutive year, the competition’s newest judge is style guru Pippa O’Connor. She will join XFactor and ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’ adjudicator Louis Walsh; plus fashion educators and experts Tracey Fahey and Jane Leavey.

Another new addition to the main grand final judging panel this year is Stephen McLaughlin – a previous winner and a first class graduate of the Limerick School of Art and Design.

This year saw a record number of applicants with 1,533 Kouture outfits entered; however, just 86 are left standing for the final.